What are some major accomplishments that you have achieved over the past 12 months?
“I’ve just finished choreographing Tanderrum with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company for the opening of Melbourne Festival.
It was the bringing together of the five Kulin nations for an old ceremony that hasn’t been done for about 180 years. I was working with the Elders and communities of the Kulin nations to choreograph new song and dance.
Just prior to the performance of Tanderrum, I completed Stage 1 development of a new work with the Kawadji Wimpa traditional dancers from Lockhart River, through the Wilin Spring Intensive initiative at Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts, VCA. It’s a skills development program where emerging dancers receive intensive training in Contemporary dance.
The Kawadji Wimpa dancers have come down here to Melbourne, and I’ve invited Tammi Gissell, Deon Hastie and Mariaa Randall to come on board as teachers, mentors and co-choreographers. We just finished development of that work, and next year we’ll head up to Lockhart before they come back to Melbourne again for another round of intensive training and creative development.
The dancers took the training on board. It’s been really good because this was the first real full block of contemporary dance training and choreography that they have experienced, so the Elders have been able to see exactly what contemporary dance and contemporary theatre making is - and that it’s not a threat to traditional dance training. That they can co-exist”.
Have you recognised any particular changes to your style of choreography and work over the years?
“Not so much changes to my choreography, but more so a reaffirmation of what I do. As well as clarity in the techniques I am exploring and processes I am using”.
What was it like for you to be the founder of Victoria’s first Indigenous Contemporary dance company?
“It’s just something that kind of happened. I’d like to say it was premeditated and completely planned but it wasn’t. IDJA’s been around for a bit over two years now.
There’s still a lot of work to be done down in Victoria in recognition of Indigenous contemporary dance”.
What’s coming up for you? What are you looking forward to, short term and long term?
“Well at the moment, in the short term, I’m finishing off a script called Blood on the Dance Floor, which will be a solo dance theatre work. I’ve just received funding for script development from Arts Victoria. It’s a text based dance piece, inviting Indigenous choreographers (Mariaa Randall, Tammi Gissell and Gary Lang) to come in and work on ‘episodes’ within the script to build choreography into it. I’m really getting into writing, working with text. Introducing more text / spoken word into movement and dance theatre.I have to finish that one by the end of the year, well the first draft of the script at least. Then it will be off to Lockhart River in the next year.
10 years down the track? Can’t really say. Pretty much got my eye on the prize, delivering a full-length contemporary dance production with Lockhart. This has been a 3-year commitment as artist in residence at the Wilin Centre. Next year will be the last year of the development phase for the premiere of a new work in Lockhart River 2015. That’s my main focus, as well as getting Blood on the Dance Floor off the page and into the studio”.